March 27, 2019

The Golemist (GLOG Class)

In the rain-soaked city of Ischaim, cloistered scholars and rabbis perform sacred rites and incantations over holy simulacra of men, designed to impart life and stewardship into these guardians of the faithful. You are not a holy man, or one of the faithful. The secrets of golemistry were leaked to the arcane public, losing the trappings of religion in the process. Now golemistry is utilized by most major countries, and wandering golemists fill secretive clubs and barrooms with hulking clay bodies, glimmering in the firelight.


This class was inspired by a lot, notably Judah Low from Iron Council and the State Alchemists of FMA. I wanted something like a summoner class that drew upon their surroundings for quick minion creation in combat. It’s kinda like a spellcaster if they only had one spell that got more specific as they levelled up. I’m not sure it’ll work, since I haven’t really tested it, but it was fun to write. Maybe in time, after some testing, I’ll give it another writeup and spruce it up (but probably not).


I wrote it as a competition with Spwack over in the OSR discord. Check out his Golemist class (I have no doubt his actually works) and his other stuff, it’s all very good and weird. I've never written a GLOG class before, so this was a really fun way of getting into things!

Mikoláš Aleš

Golemist


Starting Equipment: Notebook, dagger, set of brushes and inks, roll on your favorite random item list.


Perk: You can block out any external stimuli that would cause you to lose concentration on your work.
Downside: Any HP you use to create a golem can’t be regenerated by any means until that golem is dismissed.

For every Golemist template you have, gain +2 HP

A: Dismissal, Animate Lesser Golem
B: Understanding, Animate Common Golem
C: Usurp Command, Esoteric Material
D: Efficiency, Animate Greater Golem

To create a golem, you touch an object and invest a portion of your body and soul, in the form of HP. Each golem type has different HP requirements from you. I.e., you cut yourself for 1 HP and invest it into making a lesser golem. That golem has 1 HP, and you can’t regain that 1 HP until the golem is dismissed. Golems are brought to life by an arcane word inscribed in blood on their bodies somewhere. If this word is marred or erased, the golem is destroyed.

You start off being able to make clay or mud golems.

Universal Studios

Dismissal
You can instantly dismiss any golems you control with a thought, rendering them insensate matter once more. Greater golems get a save, while rogue golems have to be manually erased.

Animate Minor Golem
Spend 1 HP per golem HP to imbue a material or conglomerate of material with a portion of soul and the semblance of life. They can only follow simple commands (“Go for their legs”, “Protect this doorway”). Lesser golems are smaller than a human. Each HP you spend is one golem HP.

Understanding
You study something at a fundamental level, and gain an insight to it unrivalled in the field. Takes 1 hour of uninterrupted extrospection (30 minutes with proper equipment like a 10 gp microscope) on a solid you can examine with your tools and hands. Save vs. forgetting what you learned while you sleep, after three successes the knowledge is permanent. While you understand something, you have advantage on identifying it in other materials, and you know the best ways to kill or neutralize it. You can also create golems out of that material from now on, and golems made of that material go rogue 5% less.

Animate Common Golem
Cost 2 HP per golem HD. Your golems can be bigger (human to ogre sized), and more complex. They follow fairly complex or sequential commands.

Usurp Command
If you meet another golemist on your road, kill him and take his golems. You can impose your will over other constructs. Their controller gets a contest (or the golem does do, if it’s controller is dead). On a fail, take 1d6 psychic damage, and all your currently active golems are dismissed.

Esoteric Understanding
Your golems are stranger, utterly unique. You can use your gift of understanding on even stranger or more complicated things, like radium, air, ideas, or anti-matter. Up to GM discretion. Normal material understanding no longer needs a save vs. forgetting. Reduces all rogue chances by 5%. Stacks with understanding.

Efficiency
You bypass the Golem-Master Bond problem, allowing you to regain half the HP you invest when you create any golem. The HP is still drained, but you can regain half (rounded down) while the golem is still active.

Animate Greater Golem
Invest 3 HP per greater golem HD. These creations are thinking, sapient. Act as a hireling that is utterly devoted to you. See below on greater golem building.

Saddleback. Allows the golem to be ridden like a horse or riding lizard or whatever creature you want. Moves like an elephant. Costs 3 HP during creation.
Gun Barrel. Your golem can shoot cannon balls for 4d6 damage on a hit. Costs 6 HP, and you need a cannon on hand (or enough raw material to make one, I guess.)
Many-Legged. Your golem has more than two legs, possibly far too many. It cannot be knocked over. Costs 3 HP.
Amorphous. The whole thing is made of wet clay, living flesh, protoplasm, or other gooey substance. It can be cut in half and survive, and eventually reconstitute itself. Costs 6 HP.

Shell. The golem is hollow, with a space inside for you, the creator. Basically a mech suit, gives you the physical stats of the golem and AC like plate. Costs 6 HP.

Bladed. Covered in metal teeth, shards of glass, actual swords, sharpened bits of bone, planes of refined entropy. Does 2d6 damage on contact, really good at grappling. Costs 3 HP.

Keith Thompson

Rogue Golems
Creating a golem is a difficult undertaking. The more complex the mind, the more likely the golem is to break free of your mental restraints and act on its own initiative. This is known as “going rogue”. Whenever you create a golem and the first time you ask it to put itself in harm’s way for you, roll 1d100.

Lesser golems: 10% chance of going rogue
Common golems: 20% chance of going rogue
Greater golems: 45% chance of going rogue

Keith Thompson, again
A Few Example Golems
Here are some golems statted up so you can see what they do and how to model them in your games.

Scissor Golems. 2 HP. AC as rat. Tries to cut your tendons or stab your feet for 1d4 damage. MOV as rat. MORALE 20. Flock like piranha. They don’t do much damage if you’re wearing good boots, but god help you if you trip and fall.
Door Golem. 3 HD. AC as Plate. Can’t really attack, but will slam itself shut on your fingers if it has to, 1d4 damage. MOV 0. MORALE 20. Used as guardians, like sphinxes. If you answer the riddle correctly or know the secret password, the way is opened for you. Forgetful mages tend to include hints to their passcodes.
Clay Golem. 1 HD. AC as Leather. Pummels you with rock-like fists for 1d6 damage. MOV as human. MORALE 20. Stolid, dependable, unoriginal. Look for the secret word on its forehead or in its mouth. 
Ball-of-Flesh Golem. 2 HD. AC as unarmored human. Rolls over you, slashing at you with random appendages for 1d6 damage. 50% chance of trying to suffocate you and add you to its mass. MOV as horse. MORALE 20. When most people see a bunch of strewn bodies, they see carnage. You see raw material.
Oliphaunt Golem. 6 HD. AC as Plate. Hits like a fucking tank, tusk-blades do 1d8 slashing while the gun in place of its head shoots for 4d6 damage. MOV as elephant. MORALE 20. Not only is it huge and dangerous, it is cunning, and seeks only to aid its creator.
Artist unknown, from Goethe's Faust

What Your Golem Does When It Goes Rogue

  1. Attacks everything in sight, including inanimate objects. 
  2. Attacks only you, then leaves out the nearest exit.
  3. Screams without lungs or vocal chords, then collapses back into whatever original matter it was constructed from.
  4. Obeys your commands a millisecond slow, then sneaks away at its first opportunity.
  5. Walks in a counterclockwise spiral until it hits an object, then reverses around it.
  6. Begins eating everything it can fit in its mouth. If it doesn’t have a mouth, it just mashes the things on its face. The objects aren’t actually eaten; they’re still inside it, crushed and covered in clay.
  7. Attacks everything but you.
  8. Carries you to the next room/building/clearing/area then collapses.
  9. Is entirely unresponsive.
  10. Moves at one quarter of its normal rate; every attack is telegraphed so far in advance anyone can get out of their way.
  11. Constantly emits noise/smoke/sparks, thwarting any attempts at stealth or polite conversation.
  12. Walks backward, trips on everything.
  13. Obeys only the most simple and direct orders. Like playing a text-based game. Even “Go through the door” will cause it to overheat and lock in place.
  14. Whatever it wants. It is now an NPC. It remembers everything you’ve done to it, including while it was the base material.
  15. Shadows your every move, obeys none of your commands.
  16. Begins scratching every word and discernable noise it has heard on the wall/floor in dictation.
  17. Does the literal opposite of all of your commands.
  18. Uses whatever appendage is able to smash out its own word, crippling or killing itself.
  19. Gets visibly hot, then explodes for 6d6 damage.
  20. Transmutes to a new substance, then discorporates.




March 13, 2019

8 Strange Diseases, or Curses

Most scholars agree that curses and the myriad illnesses that plague humankind are one in the same, and that previous theories of predatory animals too small to see or vaporous miasmas are laughably inaccurate. A witch might curse you with a haunted reflection, or the common cold. Most cure disease spells, if pumped up with juice, will work on curses, although you have to know the effects of the curse inside and out to affect it, and that's generally hard to do, due to them not coming with instruction manuals.

That being said, here are 8 diseases that are fairly common and understood. Not to say that everyone knows how to prevent TVS, but a city doctor or priest can certainly be paid to help facilitate curing it.

1. Lobster-Dick. Your genitals become replaced with a lobster tail, complete with shell, tiny legs, and all the accoutrements. It's still functional. Gain a +1 bonus to save vs. groin attacks. If you have intercourse with someone (regardless of your sex or theirs) they become pregnant, and give birth to 1d6 lobster-men. Interestingly, this curse can be used on other body parts, but to less drastic effect (gaining a giant pincer is cool, and most adventurers can't write anyway).

How did you get it? Defiling the temple of a sea-god, or doing something truly reprehensible to a lobster. You fucking sicko.

How do you cure it? You can't. Sorry.


2. Spell Syphilis. Your mind begins to slip, and your spell slots rot right out of your head. Eventually, you die, but in the meantime you go crazy and become a stereotypical "mad wizard". Your aura, if viewed through a shew-stone or a spell like second sight, looks like a ratty old cloak made of bacteria or fungus, and you look like a living corpse. Spell slots rot at rate of 1 per day, then you start taking Wisdom damage. At 0 you die.

How did you get it? Handling any strange wands, especially those found in a dungeon.

How do you cure it? It's incurable, but you can stave off the effects by passing it on to someone else, a la It Follows.


3. Excessive Sanguinity. You have too much blood! For the first few days after contracting this illness you feel fucking great, and gain +2 to Dexterity and Strength checks, but then it starts to hurt as your veins swell and fill, with no extra space to grow to. After nearly two weeks of excrutiating agony, you pop. In that time, any being that feeds on blood (vampires, blood mages, mosquitoes) within a five mile radius knows exactly where you are.

How did you get it? Eating too many blood oranges, coming into contact with any bodily fluid already infected.

How do you cure it? Drain your blood to keep it in equilibrium, forever.


4. Spontaneous Osteo-Liquefaction. Your bones turn to liquid, usually in stages. First, the teeth liquefy and trickle down the back of the throat. Save vs choking. Then the extremities, the fingers, toes, and fontanelle, and you stop being able to hold things. Finally the main structural bones turn to liquid and you can't stand, or move quickly at all. You become a slime, of sorts.

How did you get it? Ingest the flesh of an ooze. It's a bit like lycanthropy, but grosser.

How do you cure it? Drink a bunch of milk. Bathe in milk. Sacrifice a finger to the calcium gods.


5. Scabification. Your blood begins to harden in your veins. It's slow enough that you definitely feel it, though not exactly what it is exactly. Something like arthritis or old knees, but it can affect a person of any age. Suffer a -5 penalty to all Dexterity checks. Eventually, your entire body becomes a rough, coagulated sculpture.

How did you get it? Picked too many scabs, or you didn't offer fealty to the minor spirits of bloodlust as you pass a battlefield.

How do you cure it? Drink a tincture of ground leeches and heparin, once a day for a week. The medicine makes you feel weak; -3 to your Constitution score until you stop taking it, and your save vs. poison is reduced.


6. Loss of Ontological Cohesion. Somehow, you or your body was convinced that it isn't really a human body. Your organs and tissues forget their purpose, turning into leaves and flowers and tadpoles and threads. You drift apart, your mind unravelling as your body does. Occasionally, you can remember who your were with enough fortitude so as to hold your new body together (like living armor) but this is rare. All of your physical stats begin to decrease as your body fades, and unless you pass a Wisdom save every day, so too does your mind.

How did you get it? Encountered a memetic virus, and Outsider or god thought about you too hard, or you got drunk and started talking philosophy.

How do you cure it? It can't be reversed, but you can halt it by reading anatomy textbooks and remembering bits of your past life.


7. TVS. Aka Terminal Velocity Syndrome. Once thought to be a combination of a vestibular issue and osteogenesis imperfecta, sufferers of TVS are affected by gravity at an abnormal rate. Every movement is compounded enough to instantly reach terminal velocity; even a fall from a foot or two up can be fatal. A stumble deals 1d6 damage, and all fall damage is multiplied by 5. Your attacks are a lot heavier, though, and deal +2 damage.

How did you get it? Struck on the head by a Stygian apple, or bitten by a gravity goblin.

How do you cure it? Remain suspended in an antigravity field for an hour a day.


8. Teakettler Disease. Your internal body temperature is constantly rising, causing pain and pressure on your bones. If you ignore it long enough without releasing it (roughly every three hours), you take 1d6 exploding heat damage. When you release it, it issues from your mouth in a burst of steam and a piercing whistle that can be heard from far away. Your sleep is rough and unsteady, and you gain 1/2 the XP you normally would.

How did you get it? You didn't offer a weary guest the customary drink, or touched a dragon's scale without washing it in grain alcohol first.

How do you cure it? Consume a cumulative 9 pounds of ice.

March 9, 2019

Larothe, City of Moths

The city sits in the shallow basin of the Waxahatchee river valley, more a plate than a bowl, slumped and sumptuous and decaying ever so slowly into the muddy water. There are roads leading to other cities and nations, carved out of the jungle in strange almost-tunnels that the natives of the region believe to have been tracks of the Great Worm, but during the rainy season they become impassable with fallen trees and flowing water.

Creatonotos gangis. Thanks for the nightmares, Skerples.

Like an emerald, Larothe shifts in the sunlight. It's hot and humid, and gharials and jaguars lounge about the stone canalsides and arcades that are submerged half the year. Creeping vines and hardwoods and drakeblood trees cling to the tops and sides of the buildings, and wiry men and women in undyed clothes pole thin canoes called sculs to market and out in the river, which is wide and placid enough to be called a lake. But the most striking thing any newcomer notices, stinking and sweating and usually fever-eyed, are the moths.

Opodiphthera eucalypti.

Dozens, hundreds, thousands of moths. They cover the city in a shifting mosaic of life. Species from all across the known world congregate in Larothe. The grinning, twitching moth-priests scratch themselves until they bleed and smile with teeth black with rot and lacquer and say that the River Moth gathers them here because they are his children.

Thaumetopoea pityocampa.

(There are no butterflies. Swarms of normally-placid moths find them and rip them apart as soon as they get within a rough three-mile radius of the city, leaving only gently floating vibrant wingscales on the breeze.)

Laothoe populi.

The moths are the lifeblood of the Larothi. They breed hunting moths the size of footballs, rigged with razorblades on their abdomens and blinders on their compound eyes, caterpillars the size and furred-texture of bison that never pupate. They scrape them from walls and mash them into a grey paste called uir gran that is used as a protein sample in every household. Larothe fashion is dictated by moth and by tedium; the sumptuous, shimmering clothes of the rich are sewn in mandalas of moth-scales, painstakingly plucked from still-living wings in religious ceremonies. At night, huge black vampire moths use their delicate needle-claws to draw blood from sleeping people and livestock (mosquito nets are a very necessary expense in Larothe), and huge nymph-pupae swim in the murky water like antlions, their blind faces seeking flesh to rend and devour with their immense mandibles.

Thysania agrippina.

Nominally, the King of Larothe holds dominion over the city and the satellite settlements that provide maize and rice to the metropolis, but the real power lies with the moth-priests. The kings have been elected by a council of apotheosis-seeking priests since the Dawn of Dusted Sun, and the populace knows it. Religious holidays are observed without fail, and divergence is punished with exile to the inverted tower. Outsiders are exempt from these laws until they reside in the city for 10 months and 10 days.

Attacus atlas.


The River Moth

Part god, part bogeyman. The moth-priests revere and revile it, and pray that it stays away during the driest time of the year, when the river recedes and the entrance to the inverted tower is revealed and yawns like a dead mouth. Swarms of moths circle over its top day and night, and some say you can read your fortune in their gyrations. No one has seen it, but every year it appears in dreams to some in the city, who are blessed with the Mark of the Moth, vertical welts down the face. It always looks huge and dark, with too many limbs and eyes and mouths, and with four huge, fluttering wings. It has an affinity with the moon.

Chrysiridia rhipheus.

To appease the River Moth, the devout smash open the still-living skulls of capuchin monkeys and smear the brains across the lentils and frames of their doors. The Moth passes them by, but the brains must be reapplied every other night until the river rises back up to the Third Mark, and the tower is filled with water once again.

Acherontia atropos.

The truth is that the River Moth isn't real, or at least isn't a physical being. It is a shared hallucination brought on by the chemical dust that falls from the wings of the Actias rursus, a flesh-eating moth that flutters over sleeping victims. The dust has a soporific and pruritian effect on the victim; they suffer strange, feverish dreams and begin scratching at their faces and heads until they scratch through their skulls and into their brains, which the moth then eagerly drinks up. This is called the "itching illness".

Agrotis infusa.

The priests take this dust and apply small amounts to their bodies to grant them the dreams of their god, and they leave their wounds open to offer sustenance to other fluid-drinking insects. They look like junkies in living cloaks of fluttering wings.

Utetheisa ornatrix.

Things to Procure in Larothe

The people of Larothe trade and barter, or use deathshead moth wings as currency, but they'll except your silver and copper. Larothe is a crossroads, remote as it is, and you can find pretty much anything there, but here are a few things you'll need in the jungle.
  1. A scul. Holds 2 people and a small amount of gear. Goes pretty fast, and is really maneuverable.
  2. A hunting moth. Eats fresh meat, ferocious, dies in two weeks. AC as hawk, d6 razor damage.
  3. Mosquito net. Good for preventing malaria and having your brain eaten.
  4. Silkworm armor. AC as studded leather, but takes up no inventory space and breathes in the jungle heat.
  5. Grubslinger. A specialized slingshot that launches live larvae at enemies.
    • Earworm. Comes in pairs. One crawls in your ear, the other is shot at an enemy. Slowly enters the victims ear canal and takes up residence. They vibrate at the same frequencies; you can hear what the enemy hears, but their voice is subsonic and only comes through as deep rumbling.
    • Lead moth. Clings to the victim and starts gaining density, weighing down their swings.
    • Sawbird pupa. The young form of a vicious, piranha-like moth, coated in microscopic iron-hard teeth. Rotates in the air like a buzzsaw, does 3d6 damage.
    • Lipid moth. Confusing, spiralling, fractal. Too many legs and bends. It seems to dissolve into the skin and eats the fats out of the victim's body over the course of a week. Save vs wasting away, or lose 1 Con per day until you die.
  6. Hoien ul. A lamp on a ten foot pole, shines a bright, nearly-white light for 60 feet. Draws every goddamn moth in the jungle; used by priests in ceremonies for new initiates.
  7. Cocoon of the Fluttering Saint. The only mortal to attain apotheosis, the Fluttering Saint became a mixture of man and moth and flew up to live on the moon. His cocoon has been shredded, and thieves regularly sneak bits of it out. If you eat it, gain infrared vision for 1d6 hours. Save vs mutation or begin slowly dissolving into moths.

    I'll add more, but I'm tired and I need to put something new up.

    February 24, 2019

    Equipment on the Moon

    So last time I wrote, it was about the Cat's Cradle, which is the easiest and most safe way of getting to the Moon, which is really saying something. This post is about what your players might find on the Moon, or should've brought with them in the first place.

    Here you are. You've survived your trainride up the artery of the Cat's Cradle in one piece, and your train comes out into a vast, tiled room with many vaulted doors and people in bulky suits. The train belches one last bit of exhaust as the air is siphoned out of the room (to be bottled and compressed and sold as cheap oxygen tanks) and the huge doors open, the bright light of the sun cutting through the thin glow of shielded lamps along the walls. Your carriage judders as the rail's guage switches, and you're suddenly out, with a huge expanse of blackness above you and an endless plain of ash around you. You're finally on the Moon...


    Spacesuits: They aren't exactly dedicated for space; a lot of people just modify diving suits, or vice versa. Anything that keeps the pressure, temperature, and oxygen inside roughly survivable will work. Some brave souls rely on magic or Breaking, but that kinda shit doesn't always work on the Moon (1-in-4 chance for Visitor artifacts to fail). Most of them take up a lot of inventory space and make it tough to move deftly, and the ones that don't are delicate beyond belief.

    Euler Vacuum Suit
    Cost: 200 slugs, 40 minutes
    Bulky, metal, stolid. Reduces your Dexterity by 3, and every hour you spend walking wastes more of your reserves (gain a point of exhaustion, if you're playing 5e.) AC like plate. Takes up 6 inventory spaces, makes you encumbered, whatever; they fucking suck to walk in, but who wants to walk on the Moon anyway? It's weird, and cold, and haunted, and there's always a wind blowing that you can feel through your suit (its a metaphysical wind, tugging at one of your souls). Euler suits can utilize two tanks of oxygen at one time, and have slots for four more in reserve.

    Chester E. McDuffee's patented diving suit - 1911

    LeBeaux Walkabout
    Cost: 250 slugs, 50 minutes
    These suits are barely more than inflated, sealed leather and harnesses for your oxygen tanks, but they're very stylish and don't restrict movement. LeBeaux's is a famous department store back in the fractured land of Massachusetts, and they regularly shipped these designer suits up to the burgeoning lunar cities back in the early days of the colonization efforts, but most experienced spacers don't put much stock in their protection. No movement or Dexterity penalties, but you also can't put armor on under it. Any slashing or piercing damage you receive punctures the suit; you have 1d4 rounds before your air runs out to fix the leak or die. You also need to wear lots of layers of wool or synthetic fabric underneath, because the Moon is cold. Holds one tank, with one in reserve.

    I tried to find one that fit more with the idea, but "vintage leather suit" was a bad idea to google

    Hargrave Spikesuit
    Cost: illegal, because whoever owns one must be a pirate
    The pirate-lord Hargrave doesn't make suits, but his crews cobble them together from stolen suits. They usually scrub the blood out first, too. They weld nails and screws and razors to the outside of scavenged spacesuits, deterring predator beasts and lunar militia alike. They hug you to rupture your suits, if they can. Reduces your Dexterity by 1d3, and have similar exhaustion effects as the Euler suits. AC like studded armor, and they take up 4 inventory spaces. A critical hit against them knocks a piece off. Making a grapple or unarmed attack against someone while wearing a spikesuit does an additional 1d4 piercing damage on a success. Can hold 1d2 tanks of oxygen, with none in reserve except those you actually carry.

    Like this, but somehow more horrifying


    Light sources: The Moon is cold. It's also dark. Even during the day, it's a doomed adventurer who forgets about light. There's no (or at least very little) atmosphere on the Moon, and the sun shines with an intensity not known on Earth, but the Moon is riddled with rocky outcroppings and caves and forests of strange, petrified madness-trees, and you can be plunged into absolute darkness at any time. Ash-storms roil about on the surface, and the ancient halls of the dead beneath the ground have long been abandoned and rendered dark.

    Arc-Lamp
    Cost: 50 slugs, 10 minutes
    You can clip these lights to your suit. Provide them with a charge, either thaumaturgic or via a battery, and they produce a bright blue beam that cuts through darkness like a knife for 60-70'. They get hot. It takes about 6 hours before you would even start to feel that through a suit, but if you're just holding one, it's too hot to hold after about an hour of continuous use. They need to be hooked up to your oxygen supply, but they don't consume an about to be appreciable.


    Moonstone
    Cost: 175 slugs, 35 minutes
    Veins of luminescent silicate flow beneath the surface of the Moon like silver blood. It has a similar composition to the reified madness produced in an aurora by the polyp-trees. Most scholars agree that it is the same thing, but acted on by the miniscule pressure of the Moon over billions of years. Either way, the chunks of it glow brighter when shaken, so a lot of people put them in cages attached to their suits and power them that way. They're toxic, so don't touch them with your bare hands. If you do, roll on your favorite mutation or madness table and gain a random effect. Some people grind them up and snort them. They produce a soft white light in a 20' radius, or 40' if shaken vigorously, which then fades away after 3 rounds.

    This is gallium. Moonstone is like this but glowy

    Plutonium Orbiter
    Cost: 100 slugs, 20 minutes
    A bit of Plutonium, struck from an elemental. It circles your head and emits an etiolated orange light in a 5' radius, leaving tracers and emitting sine-wave sparks as it does. If someone casts a mind-reading spell on you, they catch some of the Plutonium as well, and it's pissed. Looking at it too long gives you a headache. You can cast the spell light (even if you don't know it or have spellcasting normally) on anything made of metal, as long as you keep ahold of it. The orbiter does 1 point of radiation damage every day you have it equipped, and after every month that passes, gain a cumulative chance to mutate.


    Vial of Lunar Slug Oil
    Cost: 20 slugs, 4 minutes
    Glass bottle with a steel stopper. A substance that isn't really oil, harvested from Lunar Slugs (creatures that aren't really slugs). It smells like lemons and graveyard wind, and glows intensely when fed meat. The oil is actually the slugs' way of reproducing, each drop containing millions of microscopic lunar slugs that are usually hibernating. When a food source is introduced, they begin feasting and fighting, causing the chemical reaction that makes them glow. After 5 feedings, the glow is dimmer as the slugs die, and after 10 one slug remains, large enough now as to fill the vial with no room to spare. When you find it, the vial has been fed 1d4+1 times already.


    Oxygen tanks: This is the main thing you need to survive on the Moon. Oxygen is so important that the entire lunar economy is based on how many minutes of it you have. In Cambridge and the Harvard Lunarium are quantum-paired banks that will exchange your slugs for minutes (represented by paper scrip), usually at a rate of 5 slugs to 1 minute (although this depends on your trustworthiness as a creditor). This might get complicated when calculating XP (I use currency as XP) so I might just make it 1:1, but I want oxygen to feel even more valuable than magic or food on the Moon.

    There aren't that many variants with oxygen tanks. They all contain about an hour's worth of air, and they all plug into the same adapters on your suits. However, the quality of oxygen differs, and some people pay more for air from certain parts of the world below. A shitty tank will only cost about 5 slugs, but if you get attacked and the to-hit is more than 18 the tank will leak. A good tank will set you back about 20 slugs.

    Some more loose adventurers add applicators to their tank supply, vials of gas that can be added to their oxygen to give them short-lived bonuses, like nitrous in cars.

    Laughing Gas
    Cost: 20 slugs, 4 minutes
    Anaesthetic and dissociative vapor, allows you to shrug off pain for 1d6 rounds. You can't stop laughing. When you take damage during this time, it is put off until the time that the gas wears off. You suffer no fear effects, and if an attack would kill you, you ignore it. If you recover that HP before the gas wears off, you live. Otherwise it all comes at once.

    Ghost Haze
    Cost: 30 slugs, 6 minutes
    Distilled from the souls of the dead found clustered on the Moon. Lets you and everything you're carrying become incorporeal for 1d4 rounds. If you're phasing in something when the effects wear off, you become stuck, and take 3d10 radiation damage. Otherwise can't take or deal damage in the ghost-state.

    Fumes of Leto
    Cost: 60 slugs, 12 minutes
    The Mad Mage Leto produced this vapor formula before he died and converted his mass into writhing bunches of worms. It allows you to see approximately 3 seconds into the future for one minute. The sensory ghosting and overloading is intense (Wisdom save or temporary insanity) but if you power through you can anticipate any incoming attacks, and your attacks do an additional 1d4 damage as you can target them more precisely.


    This is starting to get long, so I think I'll end it here. But I still have some ideas about weapons and stuff, maybe transportation.

    First Post: The Cat's Cradle

    So I made a blog. Sporadic posting on reddit is fun and all, but I think I needed the discipline of having something I actually need to feed and water, take care of. Who knows, this will probably end up being a convenient way for me to organize my own content, which honestly is sorely needed around this ol' cluttered brain. Regardless, here goes.

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    I want to tell you all about the Moon.

    Back in the old days, before Harvard sold their campus to the rail barrons and emigrated to the pitted and silent surface of that cold celestial body, humanity fired great guns and shot bullets filled with science equipment and researchers into its face. Most of the intrepid voyagers died on the way, and as everyone knows, when you die in space your soul is tethered where it happens.

    The Moon is filled with ghosts and sad spirits.

    This is the first post about a custom setting I'm building, a very weird version of the 1890s, in which some aliens visited Earth and severely fucked up all of reality. The Moon provided an escape for the harried Earthlings, and so the brilliant minds of what was once Harvard University began trying to find a way up into its silent expanse of silicon forests and dried, ashen seas. After the first round of man-cannons and primitive rocket ships and fucked-up teleportation spells, they stumbled on a mix of alien alloy and electricity, manmade and grown in equal measure. Some say they performed a dread ritual of some sort, and indeed the result seems to have its own strange intelligence, as if it were alive; miles-long hollow tubes, like alveoli or muscle fiber, stretching up and pinioning the Moon in place, providing air and shelter from the emptiness of orbit.

    The Cat's Cradle

    is what this shifting mass of living metal is called. It looks like a column of twisted wires up close, and a shining filament from far away. At its base, where it burrows and clings into the bones of the earth, spreads a dark stain of railways and train berths and stations, spilling oil and fire into the sky. This is where the campus of Harvard University was, before the Formless Ones reassembled it exactly on the banks of the Mare Tranquillitatis. Cambridge now supplies the bodies needed to keep such a beast satiated and running. The railyards are operated by infinitesimal railway companies, blooming and dying like sped-up footage of slime-molds, like animals fighting and killing. Everyone gets mutated and goes insane here. After the brainiacs killed themselves trying to shoot the Moon, they decided to try the most modern and reliable form of transportation instead; the locomotive.

    They built engines of shards and discarded Visitor tech, engines that ran on probability and chewed through miles like the seven-league boots of myth instead of puny mortal engines of coal and fire. The engine cars have tendrils of metal that act like feelers and will cut you to the bone before you notice they're even there. Don't stand too close to them. Thanks to these miraculous devices, you can get to the Moon in a matter of hours.

    This is what a train looks like after its boiler explodes, or if its been thrashed by weird physics-defying aliens

    (The engines don't work correctly in atmosphere, for some reason. Some combination of the alloy of the Cradle and the weird forces of orbit make them able to disregard traditional space.)

    The tunnels (if that is the right word; the only thing they tunnel through is upward, through emptiness) meet the ground, and in the openings the train tracks lead in great circles and switches and engineered junctions. Gravity is strange in the tubes. It circles and twists without you knowing until you’re riding perpendicular to the Earth you’ve been confined to by the demon Inertia. The tracks are maintained by spacesuited-men riding handcarts.

    Here are some of the train companies you might interact with, and the kinds of trains they are known for building:

    1. The Wail Railway Company. Formerly owned by railway magnate Orion Wail. He was converted into sentient vibrations and has since retired to a castle made of noise suspended above the New York Island. His board of directors have continued in his stead, provided a reliable and fairly cheap means of transportation. Wail engines scream through the normally-silent halls of the Cradle, announcing their presence on both the physical and metaphysical planes to ward off danger and call to other conductors. Passengers are offered earplugs on departure. 300 shards per ticket, and 1d4 day to get to the Moon.

    2. The Steinbeck & Lowe Corporation. Known for the use of golems instead of mechanical parts. Made of clay comprised mainly of lunar ash. Like big urns with wheels, pulling themselves along the tracks with arachnoid arms. They don't market as a travelling service (their primary export are their exquisitely lifelike golems, which can only be made on the Moon under very specific conditions) but will provide you with transport if sufficiently bribed. 100 shards, 2d4 days to get there, but no one wants to rob a golem-train. They're spooky when they fight back.

    3. Ohm & Milosh Iron. The Messrs. Ohm and Milosh wish to provide the most comfortable and expedient journey to the most discerning of customers. For enough money you can ride to the Moon in complete style and comfort. The Reduvius engine makes use of a paired probability-drive and analytical device imprinted with the post-mortem consciousness of an Arilus cristatus gigantis, creating a systemic whole. The engines are bred from Messr. Ohm's personal stock of giant wheelbugs, threaded and trained before death to traverse the Cradle. These trains are subservient to each of the Milosh fragments that operates them, and are vaguely predatory. The wine is to die for. 2,500 shards for a 1d8 hour trip.

    4. The Scrapyard Boys. Not a real company, more like a gang, but there's enough of them that it doesn't matter. Ran by a dead woman named Cutter. They steal the gutted hulks of old trains and cobble together shit from terrestrial technology. Everything is dirty and rusted and barely-held together, but it runs. All the trains have scavenged engines, so the journey is about twice as long as any other group, but they're the cheapest out there. Just don't be surprised if you get pressganged into being a pirate on the way. 20-50 shards (they haggle), and it takes 2d20 days to get there.

    5. The Deathly Choir. A company of the clergy, split from the New Catholic Church in the days since the First Visitation. They monetized worship across the land, turning faith into dollars to God Mammon. They saw the potential shards to be made in helping sinners prevent eternal damnation: as I said before, if you die in space you stay there. They drive tomb-trains full of dying sinners, both real and those who worried they wouldn't make the cut to get to Heaven. They only take you if you go to Confession and can provide proof that you're dying. They don't technically charge anything, they just seriously recommend donating for the railtithe. The Deacon stationed in Cambridge is a sallow man called Johns who seems to be splitting into several possible Deacons. The journey is fairly long (2d8 days (you're supposed to die on the way, after all)), and the appointments are as cramped and bare as coffins, which they are.

    In addition to passenger trains, the halls of the Cat's Cradle are crawling with merchant trains carrying compressed oxygen, food, water, plants, books, and cigarillos to the Moon while others haul the spent containers and magical exports and research papers and college kids on sabbatical back to Earth. You can breathe and walk in the Cradle, but that’s inadvisable. Getting lost is incredibly easy; it takes teams of dedicated cartographers to map the ever-changing routes of the Cradle. One tiny slice in the wall and the cold rushes in and the air rushes out, boiling with radiation and suffocating you. Strange ecologies form in the tunnels, fed by the runoff of the madness rain on the Moon like silver blood, flowing along the ties of the tracks. Lattices of souls, living trains, tardigrades grown swollen from food and insanity. You can hear the mercury-rain pattering against the walls as it falls in aurora-sheets off the surface of the satellite. And many take to piracy, both en route and actually on the Moon, to subsist. They drive stolen and modified trains daubed in blood-red and jaundice-yellow paint in the forgotten or fractal spaces of the Cradle. They kill and pillage, and the rail companies regularly send militias and armored engines into the recesses. Your players might negotiate their way to the Moon in exchange for killing some pirates and rendering a portion of the Cradle safe for travel once more.

    Many companies in Cambridge sell lunar supplies, like spacesuits and arc lamps and bottled oxygen. It is a dead adventurer who doesn't come prepared to the Moon. There are also oxygen banks, which will exchange your shards for minutes of oxygen. Shards and dollars are useless on the Moon; minutes of air is your currency.


    Legion Trains

    Sometimes, things go wrong. Air leaks from the tube, and the train is suspended in vacuum. The seals fail, and everyone on board dies. Usually, the train stops. Or, the engine churns its way through the seething metaphysical mass of souls deposited in from of it with no problem (which is one of the only ways to actually be put to rest in space-to have your soul entirely consumed). But sometimes, the engine can’t chew all the souls at once. They bunch together, blending, turning, like hair in a drain, and the train can’t fight its way through it. Something changes in the gears and flywheels. The train suddenly is. It thinks. It has a head full of fragmented memories and personalities, and it knows that it is alive. And it wants to stay that way.

    These rogue locomotives are called legion-trains.

    Usually the rail company hunts them down (involving a great chase and lots of harpoons. It’s a lot like hunting a whale.) and melts them into slag, but very occasionally they’ll escape and flee into the deepest recesses of the Cradle. They talk amongst themselves in a language of wheel grinds and cinders. They hunt, consuming more minds to add to their knowledge. They try to reach the Moon’s surface, where they can be free. Be wary of lines of swiftly-moving dust clouds while on the cold, ashen ground.

    Legion-Train

    Chaotic neutral
    HD: 12d12
    AC: 18. It’s a fucking train.
    Movement: 60’, but only on tracks. 10’ otherwise.
    Morale: 6

    After consuming 5 more people, its Intelligence score improves by 1. It starts at 10.

    Uncanny knowledge. It can take the Dash and Disengage actions to disappear into the tunnels of the Cradle if the fight is going poorly, and attempts to track it afterward have disadvantage.

    Attacks:
    It’ll try to run you over. Dex save 17 to avoid if both of you are on the track, Dex save 12 if you both are off-rail. 10d10 damage as you’re sucked under the wheels and churned to death.
    Probability-eating tendrils get +4 to hit and deal 3d6 slashing damage. Multiply that number by ten. They also take away that much XP from your character.

    Remember: legion-trains want to live more than anything else. If you can find a way to communicate with it, it might negotiate with you to secure its personal freedom. If that fails, it will fight until it looks like it’s going to lose, then it will escape.

    The Umbilical Theory

    No one is quite sure what the Moon is. Some think it is a captured planetoid that was drawn in by Earth’s gravity, some think it is the egg of a strange god and that it must be nurtured to hatching, some think that it is a failed version of Earth that shriveled up in death. But some believe that it was once a part of the Earth itself, excised like a malignant tumor. The dead surface of the Moon belies the life under the crust: vast networks of fungus and bacteria, burrowing insects comprised of silicon and glass, metaphysical beings grafted to ancient ruins. The connecting of the Earth to the Moon has brought about a renaissance for the flora and fauna of the Moon. Things are stirring that have never seen the etiolated light of the sun before. A division of the Lunar College of Harvard have devoted their time to studying this effect via the Cat’s Cradle, the ripples of change that are sweeping the dark rock. A few extremists think the Cradle should be destroyed, but business is far too important to lose to a few nutjobs.

    Anyway, I'll be posting more about this setting as I write it up. Next up will be the Moon proper, some stats for lunar monsters, maybe a collection of equipment, writeups for the Harvard Lunarium and the Regents and the Formless Ones. Also have some plans for a hexcrawl with swamps, snakes, and gold, and maybe a fetal dungeon made of flesh. Weird winds are blowing.